Ayre or Rowland Amp?

I am thinking seriously about stepping out of my tubed ARC VT100 MKII amp into something that doesn't require retubing. The Rowland 201s or the Ayre V5xe look interesting from reviews, but I haven't heard either. These will be fed by an ARC LS5MKIII (which I love) and will feed Watt/Puppy 7s.

There don't seem to be that many of either amp 'out there' so info is relatively hard to come by, especially on the newer incarnation of the Ayre.

Any feedback would be appreciated!

Bob Wood
I have WP7's don't get the 201's get the 501's if you can they just don't have the current to control the mid-bass (on the WP7's only). They are wonderfully smooth, wide/deep soundstage but just didn't have the control of my Lamms (which are 4x the cost however). The 501's provided more of what I liked about the 201s. I use a Rowland Synergy IIi as my preamp.
I own the Ayre V5xe and it is truly a wonderful sounding amplifier. However, I don't think it would be the best amp for the Wilson's. I might would consider something like the Parasound JC1's. They have the grut for those speakers. I think the Ayre would be a little light weight unless you are listening at moderate volumes.
The only way to know for sure is try it.
ICE is a good class D module to start with. It shares with tubes a liquidity and spaciousness. The 201, and 501 sound much the same, according to people who have heard both. The 300 series amps are better sounding, due to their linear power supply.

I am an owner of the new H2O Signature monos. They power my 1 ohm speakers. These are ICE based too. Like the Rowland 300 series, the H2O is built with a robust analog power supply.
I'm not familiar with the Ayre, but I powered my WP7's with a Music reference RM200 tube amp without a problem (actually made magical music just not Lamm magic) So the 92dB 4ohm load WP7's don't require a ton of watts, just quality current.

The JC1's are nice sounding but require serious breakin 1400 hours +. They have tons of current but only 25 watts of Class A bias.

Other conventional Mosfet design should work also quite nicely: Pass Labs, etc..

If you want the bomb to mix with your WP7, get yourself either the M1.1, M1.2, M2.1, or M2.2 be warry as these generate tons of Class A heat and an addiction. (Big VTL tube amps also sound amazing if you want full tubes)

As much as I think Digital/Ice technology is amazing, I think it has a ways to go, and regardless of all the H20 hype use their money back trial to find out what works for you. Don't hold your breath, the H20 has been raved about with conventional speaker (I haven't seen any wilson owners using them on agon or audiocircle to recommendations) If someone wants to bring a pair to Scottsdale,Az to compare, I'll supply the beer!
Being an H2O owner, instead of concluding ICE technology has, "A way
to go," On the contrary, I'm wondering what more amp evolution is

There is a down side. When one commits to the H2O, or any ICE amp, one has
committed to a total system change, eventually. The ICE amp will take due
note of all deficiencies in your system, and magnify them.

For instance, I changed all my wires to ones well shielded from EMI, and RFI.
It is amazing what pollution gets into your system without you knowing it,
because it is fainter than the provided signal.

Can you give a description of that H2O? I know what you mean about revealing, but think my stuff is pretty good (i.e.: balanced Transparent Ref cables, lots of power filtering and dedicated lines, etc.) Any detail would be helpful since there's so little. Which scares me some, since you don't really know if they'll be around for support should you need it.


You are welcome, Bob. I have no worries about service, should my H2O amps
need it. Henry Ho, builder of the H2O (hence the name) will service his
creations for life. He is just that kind of guy. What's more, a service technician
has noted any amp repair shop can service the H2O.

I meant to say power cords need full shielding for all components. A good
example is Shunyata. They offer full shielding for both EMI, and RFI.

Dedicated lines, are good. Power filtering can be good. I am sure you are up
on the tradeoff in current loss when it comes to some conditioners.

Henry will send a trial amp upon request. You only need pay shipping. You
might look at audiofankj's review of his Sigs, and check out his system for

What did I leave out? I agree with audiofankj, that the music is just there.
There is no mids/highs/bass about it.

What do you have for a preamp? The H2O needs an active preamp. It should
be top notch. The H2O is a stern task mistress. Same goes for the front end.
I think you will miss your tubes, honestly.

Might want to go to a BAT which is considerably easier to retube than the ARC. Also, a great combination.

And yes, I've owned the Rowland 201s. Sure, they are great to look at, but I found them fairly sterile and lacking a 3dness that tubes provide.
To answer the question above, the front end is Sony SCD-1, 3x modded by Richard Kern, into ARC LS5MKIII with Infinicaps and removeable IEC. I think I am using an Electraglide with that - and its power is via dedicated line through an Ultimate Outlet into PS300 MWII.

Thanks - this thread has been wonderfully free of invective and full of HELP which is a breath of fresh air to me.

Bob, that sounds like a good start to use with the H2O. BTW, the H2O sigs will be featured at the NY HE Show at the end of next month. They will be powering Analysis ribbon speakers. I'm flying from California for that one.
I have those "sterile" Roland M201s and I think they are FANTASTIC. So I think you will just have to try them to be sure what sound you like best.
I will have to second the "FANTASTIC" comment regarding the Rowland. I am using the Concerto int. which is said to be the "equivalent" to the Concerto pre / 201's. Can't write enough positive adjectives about it. The lack of "3-D" comment makes me wonder what the front end and speakers were.
I also have Concerto integrated and I couldn't agree more...and just to mention that I was a tube(300B SET) guy before.
I noticed Ayre is soon coming out with monoblocks which look small in size....they showed them at HT. May want to check on them or wait for them before making a decision. I know I am!
ayre is a much better amp than a rowland which uses little cheap power modules. rowlands are not great values